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For home services professionals, competition can be stiff. There are a lot of providers out there, and it can be hard to figure out the best way to stand out. Plus, the way homeowners think about and search for home repair and home remodeling solutions has changed over the last decade, so it’s important that home services companies, like plumbers, roofers, general contractors, home cleaners, and more learn how to capture the attention of today’s modern consumers.
That means that in order to market your home services business effectively, there are many different factors (and marketing channels!) to consider.
That’s a lot of places people are looking for businesses like yours!16 best home services marketing tips
Let’s walk through each home services marketing tip in detail:1. Invest in local SEO
Internet searches are the top way homeowners are finding a home services provider, according to our national home improvement consumer study. And, when searching for home service professionals on search engines, consumers are usually taking a local approach.
Searches with phrases like “electrician near me” are a regular occurrence. After all, an electrician five states over is not going to do you any good! That’s why it’s critical for home services professionals to have a presence in local search results.
This means that your home services marketing must include a local SEO, or search engine optimization, strategy that helps you get found in search results when potential customers are looking for your services in your area.
These businesses show in organic search results for “roof repair oklahoma city.”
Local SEO is just SEO that optimizes your website and online presence for local searches. This includes adding location-specific keywords to your website, optimizing your web content for the right keywords for your services, and managing your offsite local listings (which we’ll talk about more in a bit!).
Related: Get the steps for how to do local keyword research.4. Use video to up your game
There’s no question that video marketing delivers messages more effectively in a shorter amount of time.
Consider these stats:
Video watchers retain 95% of a message compared to 10% for those who read text.
These stats illustrate why adding video to your home services marketing mix can help you reach and convert more consumers.
Related: Get YouTube video ideas that will work for your business.5. Boost your home services business with better reviews
Getting your business found is only half the battle. According to our home services study, 70% of homeowners rely on recommendations from family or at least one review site. Plus, research has found that nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews.
In other words, once a potential customer knows about you, you then need to convince them that your company is better than the competition–or you won’t be on their shortlist of who to call. As a home services business, your job goes beyond promoting your business to new customers, it’s also about getting existing or former customers to publicly sing their praises about your company.
You can encourage happy customers to leave reviews for your home services business on relevant review sites like Google Business, Yelp, and Angi. And, make sure you’re responding to reviews so happy (and potentially unhappy) customers know you’re reading and considering their feedback.6. Build a user-friendly website
See more of the best plumbing website examples here.
You also want to make sure your site is clearly laid out and that your contact information is front and center. You’d be surprised by the number of home services businesses that hide their address and phone number away on their site. Instead, make sure that your contact details are in the header or footer of every page, so someone who’s looking for home services help in a rush doesn’t have any trouble getting in touch!7. Add live chat to your website
One way to take your website to the next level is to add live chat. Live chat can help you quickly answer questions, provide details, and collect lead information so you’re able to provide a positive user experience for potential and existing clients on your website.
People prefer to use chat and messaging rather than calling a business, so if you provide live chat as an opportunity for them to reach out, you have a higher chance of converting them into a customer.
Source8. Manage your business listings
For home services businesses, business listings are extremely important. Not only do they help you get seen on search engines and help your local SEO, but they also provide an additional place to collect and manage your reviews.
Start by claiming your Google Business Profile so that you appear in Maps results and have a shot at getting featured in organic search results as well as the Google 3-pack. Business listings can be tricky for home services providers–especially when you don’t have a specific business address. So it’s important to include the most accurate service area for your business to increase your chances of showing up on Google for local searches.
Sites like Yelp, Angi, and others are places where consumers turn for assistance in finding local home services providers, so you want to make sure your business is listed in these places as well.
It’s also important that your home services business information is listed accurately and consistently in local listings to provide a positive customer experience and because consistency is an important ranking factor for your local SEO. Google looks at your business information across the web to determine the trustworthiness of the information they can find about you–the more sites have consistent information, the more credible Google finds said information, which, in turn, can give you a boost in search results.9. Don’t underestimate the power of referrals
Referrals are a great asset for any business but can be especially powerful in the home services industry. Customers are looking for a business they can trust that they know will perform the work correctly, so many turn to friends and family for suggestions. We shared this stat earlier, but it’s worth repeating here: 70% of homeowners rely on recommendations from family.
You want to be that recommendation. This means that you need to incorporate asking for referrals into your home services marketing.
We detailed how to ask for referrals here.10. Encourage Nextdoor recommendations
Nextdoor is a website (with an app) where people can connect with their neighbors, share items for sale (like Facebook Marketplace), and, lucky for you, ask for recommendations for home services professionals. This is a great way for people to discover your business from clients who have been happy with your work in the past.
First, you’ll first want to claim your business page on the app. Anyone can mention your business regardless of if you’ve claimed your business page, but this will give you more control over what people see about your business.
Then, you’ll want to ask your happy clients to mention you on Nextdoor and make sure you’re always providing the best possible service to increase your chances of getting mentioned!
For most homeowners looking for help from home services professionals, time is of the essence. You’re generally calling a plumber with an emergency need, not something that can wait a few weeks. In fact, our home services study found that 93% of homeowners get a fix in less than one week. No wonder research shows that 50% of consumers will do business with the company that responds to them first.12. Focus on delivering great customer service
Once you’ve gotten noticed and made contact with your prospects, you want to be sure you follow through and deliver stellar customer service. From arriving on time to the job site to speedy and seamless invoicing, being on top of your game every step of the way helps you impress customers and develop a long-term, loyal relationship.
Great customer service can help you get repeat customers and good online reviews–plus it can encourage referrals, which are all key components for a great home services marketing strategy.
When you run a home service business, beating out the competition is all about getting seen first and staying in close communication throughout the customer journey. If you can do that, you can set yourself apart from other businesses that struggle to manage their communications.
This moving company sends a regular newsletter called “Smooth Moves” filled with content that would be relevant to its audience.14. Engage your audience on social media
If your home services business hasn’t jumped on the social media bandwagon, now is the time. Not only is social media a great place for people to connect directly with businesses, but it’s also a place they’re spending a significant amount of time.
The average user spends 142 minutes on social media each day. That’s more than two hours every day!
If your home service business is absent from social media, you’re missing the opportunity to engage with this highly engaged audience.
You can use your social media pages to share:
Updates about your business
Positive feedback or testimonials
Helpful videos you create
Educational content you write or curate
Local events or causes
Your social media posts don’t have to be fancy–they just have to be consistent and engaging.
Related: Get social media post ideas for each month of the year by checking out our free marketing calendar template!15. Grow your audience with a social media contest or giveaway
If you’re looking for another way to use social media for your home services marketing, a contest or giveaway is always a great option.
Facebook giveaways or Instagram contests can help you grow your audience, engage with your existing fans and followers, and promote your business.
To run a giveaway for your home services business, simply identify a prize your audience would like (perhaps a discounted or free service), create your contest post including your timeline and how to enter, set the post live, and choose a winner when it’s time!
We walk through these steps in detail here.16. Add your branding everywhere
If your home services business doesn’t already have your branding wherever you can get it, now’s the time. Home services lends itself well to branding on vehicles, uniforms, equipment bags, and more.
Make sure that your branding includes a link to your website and your phone number so it’s easy for people to find more information about your business when they see your brand out and about.Home services marketing made easy
With the right marketing plan in place, your home services marketing can be a breeze. Focus on building an online presence and delivering an amazing customer experience to get new business for your home services company. And, don’t be afraid to try new marketing channels and tactics to help you stand out and reach a new audience.
Here’s a recap of the top home services marketing tips:
Invest in local SEO
Use video marketing
Improve your online reputation
Update your website
Deploy live chat
Manage your business listings
Encourage recommendations on Nextdoor
Respond to prospective customers quickly
Deliver great customer service
Stay top of mind with email marketing
Engage your audience on social media
Run a social media contest
Get your branding everywhereStephanie Heitman
Stephanie is the Associate Director of Content for LocaliQ and WordStream. She has over 10 years of experience in content and social media marketing and loves writing about all things digital marketing. When she’s not researching the latest and greatest marketing news and updates, she’s probably watching reality TV with her husband, reading, or playing with her two pups.
Other posts by Stephanie Heitman
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Most of you reading this post will likely have a solid enough idea of your marketing goals and the strategy designed to help you achieve them.
However, there’s one crucial skill that will help you reach your goals a lot more quickly, which is potentially one of the most crucial skills of all for marketing teams:
Getting more done in less time!
After all, it doesn’t matter how good your strategy is. Without execution, you aren’t going to get anywhere fast.
This post outlines nine actionable tips to help you focus on delivering the tasks needed to reach your marketing objectives and maximize your productivity.1. Harness Automation Wherever Possible
While you’re never going to be able to automate everything, you can automate a ton of monotonous time draining tasks and save yourself time to focus on activities that machines can’t do (yet) where you can really add value.
Simple and effective use cases for automation include automating:
Automation can already power much of a marketers day and the options available are only set to grow as machine learning evolves.
For those still manually generating reports, managing bids, and trawling the web for coverage, you simply won’t be as productive as your colleagues who are already learning how to harness automation to free up their time to focus on strategic tasks.2. Eat the Frog!
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if you have to eat TWO frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first!” – Mark Twain
This classic time management principle is really important to learn in order to boost your productivity throughout the day.
Think of your “frog” as your biggest, most important task, the one that you’ll typically procrastinate on if it isn’t addressed early on.
Once this dreaded task is dealt with, you’ll be able to go through the day with the knowledge that it’s probably the worst thing you’re going to have to do that day, allowing you to focus on other tasks effectively for the remainder of your day.
By doing the most important or most dreaded task first, your remaining tasks will feel easy by comparison and you’ll eradicate that lingering feeling of dread, safe in the knowledge that your “frog” has already been eaten!3. Unlock the Power of Your Calendar
Sounds simple, but I’m always surprised by how many people fail to make more use of their calendar to help with time management, and not just for managing meetings.
As I’ll go on to cover, note-taking apps are useful, but without physically scheduling your tasks you’re unlikely to be as productive.
Popular calendar integrations include:
Adding Basecamp tasks to Google Calendar
Adding Trello cards to Google Calendar
Adding Evernote tasks to Google Calendar
Adding Salesforce events to Google Calendar
The list of potential integrations goes on – the takeaway here is in order to improve focus and organization, get into the habit of using your calendar for more than just booking meetings.
Integrate it with any note-taking and project management applications you have and schedule yourself chunks of time to take care of important tasks in a timely manner.4. Try a Default Diary
Setting up a default diary is a great way of really owning your weekly schedule and reducing potential interruptions.
Creating a default diary entails planning specific times in a week/month dedicated to certain tasks to allow yourself time to focus on them.
For example, on Wednesday mornings you could set aside time for specific tasks such as 1:1s with your direct reports, or working a specific client.
And on Friday afternoons you might want to block out time to work on prioritizing your schedule for the coming week.
To get started with a default diary:
Set up activities such as time for 1:1’s as recurring appointments in your calendar.
Share your calendar with your team. You each need to know who’s working on what, when, so you can minimize interruptions where possible.
Remember to leave space for meeting bookings. By blocking out your entire diary your colleagues will find it difficult to involve you in any meetings you may need to attend!
We have even gone as far in the past as encouraging our team to schedule all internal meetings in the mornings, but found this was too difficult to police alongside client commitments.
While having companywide default diaries may prove difficult, being specific about when you’re personally going to work on certain categories of tasks and diarizing those as recurring appointments in a calendar application will give you a platform to schedule in different types of task in your diary at different times of the week.5. Get a Note App (& Write Everything Down!)
Memories are notoriously unreliable. If you attempt to rely on your memory for every task you need to do, you’ll likely end up with a lot of missed deadlines and unfinished tasks!
Which application you use depends on your personal preference. However, I encourage you to make use of note-taking applications rather than relying on handwritten notes.
Applications (e.g., Trello) can be used to create lists categorized around different aspects of your role.
For example, if you’re a manager you could create lists for tasks related to certain individuals, or around set topics such as your clients. Trello can also be used to create a Kanban board.
Regardless of which platform you use, there are a number of reasons why digitized note-taking is more efficient than making handwritten notes:
Note-taking apps are available across devices, meaning your notes taken in the office can be accessed through your smartphone when you’re on the move
Note-taking apps allow integrations with calendars to immediately diarize important tasks that arise from your notes
Digital notes can be shared with team members for collaboration on certain tasks
Perhaps, most importantly, if you’re taking handwritten notes in meetings, you’ll likely have to type them up after the meeting and send out to attendees, thus doubling your time spent taking notes!6. Pause Notifications for Focus Time
Trying not to get distracted is difficult, especially when notifications are set to alert you of new emails, tasks, and mentions across countless platforms.
Most platforms now offer the ability to either natively pause notifications for a set period of time or use third-party apps to do so.
For example, Boomerang allows you to pause your emails and customize a holding message to anyone who contacts you in this period.
It isn’t just emails you should think about pausing, project management systems, calendar notifications, and internal comms platforms should also be paused.
For project management distractions, tools (e.g., Basecamp) offer the ability to turn on “focus mode,” pausing all notifications until you decide you’re ready to review them.
Aside from in-platform notification muting, you can also use browser-level notification pausing in Google Chrome.7. Trim Down Your Default Meeting Length
You may have noticed that most meetings are scheduled for an hour or more.
I think one of the biggest reasons behind this is the default meeting length triggered by new appointments created in calendar applications such as Outlook and Google Calendar.
Most calendar users probably won’t reduce this time slot when booking meetings.
If you want to cut down on time spent in meetings, start reducing meeting length whenever possible.
For example, we encourage our staff to trim their default internal meeting length to a maximum of 45 minutes vs. an hour. After all, unless it’s a major planning meeting, there is rarely the need to meet for upwards of an hour.8. Learn How to Say No
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet
Many of us are afraid of conflict. We avoid saying “no” to avoid conflict with others.
But if you want to improve your productivity, then you can’t agree to every request that comes your way!
In leadership roles, being busy comes with the territory, but don’t become a “busy fool” by agreeing to unimportant tasks.
Sure, there will be important tasks you’re unable to turn down, but in these cases try to agree on realistic deadlines rather than putting yourself under unnecessary time pressure in your reluctance to let others down.9. Prioritize & Delegate
Knowing which tasks to prioritize and which you’re able to delegate to colleagues is important for maximizing your performance at work.
Luckily, there’s a very simple matrix you can use to help manage your workload, dubbed the “Eisenhower matrix“, which defines tasks in four categories:
Urgent and important (e.g., a key client asks for an urgent review of their performance).
Important but not urgent (e.g. the production of a marketing plan for next year).
Urgent but not important (e.g. you’ve run out of milk in the office).
Not urgent and not important (e.g. an unsolicited call from a recruitment consultant).
Review the tasks on your schedule that fit into the lower quadrants of the matrix (not important). These are tasks that can be delegated to others – those that you should probably start saying no to!Conclusion
Hopefully these tips have given you some simple techniques to improve your marketing productivity.
Once you learn how to use these time management principles, you should be able to:
Pass them on.
Get more out of those around you.
Improve the performance of your team.
Balancing creativity and strategy with the power to execute effectively is an extremely powerful combination. It’s this combination that sets high performing teams apart.
Being productive is not about working long hours and focusing on “working hard.” It’s about improving your output and working smarter!
The most productive and successful people I know:
Say no to most meetings.
Spend time with family.
Take a holiday without checking their emails.
Don’t feel any need to pretend to be working 24/7, 365 days a year.
Something we all need to keep in mind!
Screenshots taken by author, April 2023
A successful brand strategy means your business’ channels, digital experiences, and tone of voice need to home in on what your key customers want.
We’ve got marketing training to strengthen your branded consumer goods company’s relationships with your target audiences.
In order to build a loyal fan base, your brand strategy and style need to reflect your overall vision for the business. Having a brand strategy that jars with your product/service will put customers off and confuse them about who are and what you offer.
However, integrating your marketing strategy can be hard, especially today in the age of digital disruption where every customer has an omnichannel experience. That’s why our complete marketing training covers all the key elements you need to build a strong brand strategy.The RACE Framework for consumer branded goods
Our popular RACE Framework is a simple, actionable planning structure for marketing leaders looking to streamline their omnichannel marketing strategies and tactics, in a data-driven, customer-centric approach to strategic marketing.
With the RACE Framework, consumer branded goods marketers can plan, manage and optimize their marketing activities across the customer journey touchpoints of reach, act, convert and engage.
Since all our marketing training is integrated across the RACE Framework, Smart Insights members and their teams can confidently apply marketing tools and templates to optimize their key channels and platforms to optimize their customers’ journeys.Set goals and objectives
Setting clear marketing goals and objectives for your brand strategy will help you get buy-in from colleagues and brief agencies better.
It will also give you and them more confidence that you can achieve your targets by putting in place the right marketing activities to deliver them.
You can use marketing goals and objectives for both specific campaigns and longer-term ‘always-on’ digital marketing activities like organic or paid search marketing that are run continuously.Why does a brand strategy need clear marketing objectives?
In this interview from Think With Google on ‘why clarity on marketing objectives is critical’, Google’s Global VP of Ads Marketing Marie Gulin-Merle talks to Jason Spero, VP of Global Performance Solutions at Google, about the challenges faced by brands today.
They discuss how marketers can navigate increasing complexity with a clear focus on their brand’s objectives.
Within digital marketing, there is often a focus on the volume of response but not the quality, value, and cost of response.
For meaningful use of data to inform your brand strategy, it’s essential to go beyond volume measures to understand the quality of traffic on the site and whether visitors have engaged.Brand strategy objectives example
Our VQVC template, from our ‘set goals and objectives’ module in the RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path, defines four types of measures that you should define when goal setting for your brand:
CostCan your branded consumer goods business compete online?
With so much competition, you need to stand out
Get started nowPersona definition
Personas offer brands of all sizes an opportunity to create more effective, customer-centric communications. Our brief definition of a persona, coined by Dr. Dave Chaffey is:
“A summary of the characteristics, needs, motivations, environment and behavior of typical distinct audience types”.
Foviance/EY Seren define a persona as:
“A fictional character that communicates the primary characteristics of a group of users, identified and selected as a key target through use of segmentation data, across the company in a usable and effective manner.”
The key thing to remember when defining personas for consumer branded goods, is these personas need to sit at the center of every decision you make about the brand strategy going forward.
We recommend using between two and six main personas, which are carefully researched and representative, to provide the best balance and focus for your brand strategy.
Beyond just simple demographics, the templates we have created for Smart Insights members enables you to consider:
Buying decision behaviors
Customer journey mappingCan your branded consumer goods business compete online?
With so much competition, you need to stand out
Get started nowPersona example
Our practical, editable marketing templates support brand marketers and managers through the step-by-step process of researching and creating personas to support your brand strategy. Here’s the beginning of one of our example personas, young Jordan Clarke the ‘trendster’!Why does a brand strategy need personas?
If you’re still not convinced, here are 4 reasons why your brand strategy will benefit from persona implementation:
Objective rather than subjective direction
Increase conversion of key audience
Optimize site and experience to meet customer needs
Encourages more targeted media spend and integration
We’ve got marketing training to support you and your team in developing and implementing market research to inform your brand strategy. Not just personas, we have resources for SWOT analysis, competitor benchmarking, segmenting, targeting and positioning, and more.Can your branded consumer goods business compete online?
With so much competition, you need to stand out
Get started nowPlanning acquisition and budget
No matter how marketing techniques change over time, every company must remain focused on this simple fact: customers are the lifeblood of business.
Creating and growing demand for your brand requires a constant focus on the fundamentals – finding the best marketing mix to effectively communicate value and target the right audiences in the right way in the right place at the right time.
Your budget for customer acquisition will include a mix of paid, earned, and owned media, sometimes including offline experiences as well as digital. It’s crucial for brand strategists to consider the customer journey when planning marketing channels and managing landing pages to optimize website journeys.Customer acquisition plan
The map below, from our ‘define acquisition plan and budget’ module in the RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path, demonstrates the average monthly customer flow for loan products by channel.
In this case, both online and offline touchpoints are crucial in the customer journey. This means multichannel journey tracking has implications for acquisition budgeting too.Customer acquisition budget
Our tried-and-tested 4 stage acquisition budget helps brand managers plan and forecast their ROI. Briefly, each stage consists of the following:
Enter revenue targets and calculate traffic and conversion targets
Apportion your marketing channels’ contributions to targets
Allocate financial (and staff) resources to support the above activities
Map customer acquisition and tweak your plan and budget if needs beBrand strategy planning framework
Finally, it goes without saying that without a dedicated brand strategy planning framework, it will be very difficult to effectively manage your brand’s acquisition strategy. That’s where the RACE Framework comes in.
A disgruntled Apple customer is attempting to bring a new class-action suit against the company, claiming that replacement devices received under the AppleCare+ protection plan were not “like new,” despite being presented as such as part of the policy. Buyers involved claim that by providing refurbished devices as replacements, Apple breached the AppleCare contract…
The suit was launched by Joanne McRight, a Texas woman who was given an iPhone 5 in 2012. When she broke the screen on that handset, she received a replacement under the AppleCare+ warranty. A year or so later, that device also broke and was replaced as well. Both incidents cost $49 under the AppleCare terms.
That standard, according to the AppleCare+ terms (emphasis added):
3.1 Hardware Service
If during the Coverage Period, you submit a valid claim by notifying Apple that (i) a defect in materials and workmanship has arisen in the Covered Equipment, or (ii) the capacity of a covered iPod battery to hold an electrical charge has depleted fifty (50%) percent or more from its original specifications, Apple will either (a) repair the defect at no charge, using new or refurbished parts that are equivalent to new in performance and reliability, or (b) exchange the Covered Equipment with a replacement product that is new or equivalent to new in performance and reliability, and is at least functionally equivalent to the original product. If Apple exchanges the Covered Equipment, the original product becomes Apple’s property and the replacement product is your property with coverage for the remaining period of the Plan.
“Equivalent to new” is somewhat vague term that doesn’t actually rule out the possibility of receiving a refurbished device or guarantee that replacement devices will be completely new. If anything, it seems clear that Apple is using language that specifically allows them to provide refurbished units for this purpose. In fact, the agreement states that Apple can use refurbished parts to repair covered devices.
That’s the basis of Joanne McRight’s case. She claims that the agreement does not allow Apple to use entire refurbished devices—only parts—and that the refurbished handsets she was provided were of inferior quality, apparently making them more likely to be damaged and thus lead to another replacement charge.
The obvious rebuttal from Apple will be an insistence that its refurbished models are specifically tested to ensure that they meet all of the same performance and reliability standards are brand-new devices, as outlined on the company’s refurbished product store.
From the company’s “Special Deals” store page:Guaranteed Apple quality.
Before we put a refurbished Mac, iPod, iPad, or Apple TV up for sale in Special Deals, it undergoes a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure it’s up to Apple’s tough quality standards. We back it with our standard one-year limited warranty. And you have the option of purchasing an AppleCare Product for it.
McRight is proposing a class consisting of anyone who bought an AppleCare or AppleCare+ plan at any time on or after July 11, 2011, though her case seems like such a stretch that it’s hard to imagine the court will take it seriously.
My own thought? Perhaps instead of wasting her time chasing baseless lawsuits to recover money she paid due to her own apparent clumsiness, McRight should just invest in a decent iPhone case, but we’ll see how this unfolds.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.
Legal services: Engaging the non-engagable through content marketing
For law firms, word of mouth has always been the principal generator of work. This may seem surprising given the wealth of marketing tools at their disposal, but the reason is actually quite obvious. Both individuals and businesses perceive purchasing legal services as high risk.
People generally don’t fully understand their legal rights, and if they do, making a purchase is typically an infrequent act, arising out of a situation of distress (litigation, divorce, death). So people look to friends, colleagues and ‘opinion leaders’ for their experiences and recommendations, to reduce any risk they may feel exposed to.
Historically law firms have sought to leverage the power of word of mouth through ‘thought leadership’ activities, ‘early’ forms of content marketing; monthly newsletters, articles in trade publications, local seminars etc. But things have moved on. Or to be more specific, moved online: word of mouth has expanded its reach across social platforms, as ‘interrupt marketing’ continues to fail.
While other industries and big consumer brands opt for more ‘permission-based’ promotion, law firms and professional services in general have been usurped in the ‘content marketing’ stakes.
With huge investments being made, industries such as retail use content marketing not only as the cornerstone of their in-bound marketing strategies, but also to strengthen their brands and move consumers ‘softly’ through buying cycles.
Consumer and business audiences are now exposed to more content than ever before, and the bar for ‘quality content’ has been considerably raised. In order to ensure their firms are gaining traction amongst the increasing online ‘noise’, legal service marketers need to help their firms progress beyond direct mailing a ‘quarterly newsletter’ and ‘monthly case updates’ to existing clients, to a more rigorously defined, consistent and efficient content marketing and distribution system.
As almost cliched the term has become, law firms really do need to become legal publishing houses.So how do firms bring thought leadership marketing into a new era?
How can they compete effectively online – not only with their direct competitors, but with any other brand vying for audience attention and mind space?
1. Develop the business case
Most legal service marketers need to ‘gain buy-in’ internally before they can do something different. At the most senior level, this probably means pitching a business case to your firm’s management board. If you’re putting a business case together to actively pursue a content marketing strategy, start by piquing the board’s interest and talking their language. They need to understand that:
1. Clients – actual and prospective are more empowered, impatient and sceptical than ever before. They will do their best to ignore interrupt marketing and are acutely aware of when they are being sold to.
2. If ever there was a marketing tactic which supported the traditional tenets of professional services – trust, integrity, credibility – content marketing is it.
3. Socially shared content will create brand awareness beyond the traditional local-operating reach of the firm.
4. Content marketing can be used to foster engagement, create trust, establish your firm as a thought leader and expand the reach of your reputation and message through social sharing (online word of mouth).
5. Content will drive organic search results and will increase SERPs.
9. Content marketing will help retain clients between instructions and increase cross-sell opportunities.
10. Content marketing will increase client awareness, making future sales cycles shorter.
A good structure is to highlight the current situation, and then project a future position, remembering to under-promise and over-deliver.
2. Develop the content marketing strategy
Law firms must turn their thought leading ‘authority’ into ‘audience’. To do this, the marketing team should lead on developing a solid content marketing strategy for the firm.
By increasing and reinforcing awareness through quality content, you can achieve business objectives by illustrating why your firm’s solution is the best fit or will meet potential clients’ needs more adequately.The content strategy should:
1. Define how content marketing will achieve business goals.
2. Define the needs and wants of the audience the content will address.
3. Define the value that the audience will receive.
4. Define how content will deliver and reinforce the firm’s brand experience.
5. Define the content type; the legal topics that the audience need to be aware of.
6. Define how differentiation from other firms will occur.
7. Define the content message.
8. Address how the firm will reach the audience.
9. Address how the firm will encourage participation.
11. Address howe the firm will engage long term.
12. Identify if the firm has the necessary resources in place, specifying who will be responsible for what.
Content marketing is about initiating a real conversation that addresses real problems and provides real solutions.
Firms must be able to create content that answers the audience’s questions. Firms need to create something that will help people. Think in terms of how to be that ‘best answer’. But also consider how your firm can achieve differentiation through your content.
3. Plan content and understand the audience
Good content planning considers the audience and their characteristics. Whilst many firms will already have a good idea of who their audience is, you need to go the extra mile and understand how your audiences discover, consume and act upon the content being provided.
Start empathising with the ‘audience information journey’. Where are they looking for information? What are their discovery channels: email messaging, search keywords, social network topics, popular websites and forums?
It’s also important to figure out how your target audience prefers to consume information: video, visuals like info-graphics, long or short form text, or the many other media formats that exist? And consider the devices and platforms audiences are using: social networks, websites, blogs, apps, smartphones, tablets or computers.
Tapping into web analytics for devices used and media types consumed that result in conversions is the low hanging fruit for determining whether firms need to optimise for a mobile experience vs. tablet or images vs. video.
Once you understand this information, detailed editorial calendars and content schedules should be created. These are vital for indicating how frequent content will be updated, the content type and formats and how content will be created and sourced. As are delegated responsibilities to produce, edit and obtain approval for content.
4. Maximise visibility
Content needs to be found.
In today’s omni-channel communication environment, ‘transmedia storytelling’ has developed because of the dynamics of how audiences consume and share content. Audiences have access to so much content, they filter or skim; except for the content they need.
Audiences consume content in bite-sized pieces, on smart phones and tablets, often on the go. Because engagement is central to this form of storytelling, firms must ensure that whichever platforms are being used, audiences should not only find content but should be able to react and interact with it in a very simple way.
Devise and build lists of the platforms that matter to your audiences, such as influential industry blogs, news sites, RSS feeds, podcasts, industry and trade publications, news and information aggregators and forums. But rather than simply repeating the content on different platforms, try to adapt the content and story to match the platform’s strength to maximise user experience.
This content should not only all link together, but should be in narrative synchronisation with each other. By creating interconnected content, broken down into easier-to-consume chunks, you can embrace the technicalities and complexities that can exist in professional services content and educate audiences by distribution across varying channels.
5. Measure and improve
A well-executed content marketing strategy will show returns. However, firms need to examine resources carefully and create a strategy that plays to their strengths. Showing an analytics report to the managing partner will just raise more questions than support.Break down the returns into primary, secondary and user metrics.
1. As primary metrics, the management board will only care about:
1. Is the content driving business for us?
2. Is the content reducing costs?
3. Is the content retaining clients?
It’s these questions that primarily need answering.
2. As secondary supporting metrics:
1. Is content improving lead quality?
2. Is content increasing lead quantity?
3. Is content making sales cycles shorter?
4. Is content increasing client awareness?
5. Is content increasing cross-selling opportunities?
6. Is content driving positive client feedback?
3. There are also user metrics that help support the secondary indicators, around content:
1 increasing web traffic?
2.increasing page views?
3.reducing bounce rates?
4.producing re-tweets or social shares?
5.increasing our search engine ranking?Conclusion
The demise of interrupt marketing means traditional methods of thought leadership promotion don’t work the way they used to. It’s for law firm marketers to turn to content marketing as a way to leverage word of mouth, and support their firm’s efforts to attract, engage and acquire a clearly defined target audience.
However, in doing this, thinking like a publisher and formulating a content marketing strategy is a must if results are to be achieved.
Chart of the Week: 34% of customers are frustrated at not being able to find answers to simple questions. Could updated customer service channels help?
As it becomes easier to find information and make purchases, customers are becoming increasingly impatient. Brands need to ensure they are reducing this frustration by offering the highest possible level of service.
However, now that there are so many channels that customers can interact with you, this is more difficult than ever. Brands need to ensure they are making the purchase journey simple and engaging, providing all the relevant information in an easy-to-find way and communicating with customers across all the channels their audience uses.
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Failing on any one of these fronts can mean you lose customers, develop a poor reputation and see your profit margins shrink. This is why it’s vital to understand exactly where your customers’ frustrations lie and put strategies in place to address them.Customer frustrations are growing
According to the 2023 State of Conversational Marketing report from Drift and Survey Monkey, there are now a lot of frustrations to deal with, as between 2023 and 2023, customers grew increasingly annoyed at not being able to get the answers they needed and not having access to 24/7 service.
While other frustrations have become less frequent, 30% of survey respondents still say that they have experienced hard-to-navigate sites. Although this is down from 34% in 2023, it shows that a lot still needs to be done to make sites easier to use, especially in terms of providing information.
Other frustrations regularly experienced by customers include business basic details being hard to find (25%), poorly designed smartphone apps (23%), search options on a brand’s website not being useful (21%), services not being accessible on mobile devices (19%) and services that feel impersonal (17%).Email is still top for customer communications
One likely cause for frustration when customers are contacting companies is likely due to the fact that email communications can take 24 to 48 hours to get a response, with 65% of survey respondents saying they have communicated with organizations via email in the last 12 months, it goes to show that email customer service is still an important resource.
This suggests that brands can still benefit from reducing the wait time for responses to email queries or complaints in order to reduce customer frustration. The same can be said for phone communications, as 55% of consumers have contacted companies via telephone in the last year.
While these two more traditional contact methods are still popular, customers are increasingly turning to other avenues in order to contact organizations. For example, the third most popular option was a website (42%), which is likely why the inability to find the required information via a business website causes so many problems.
However, online chat is also being used, with a third (33%) of respondents saying they have used it in the last 12 months to contact a company. In fact, those under the age of 55 have, on average, used online chat more in the last 12 months, with those aged between 25 and 34 seeing the biggest increase in usage.
Social media is also being used by 28% of consumers, showing that companies need to incorporate customer service into their social media strategies, as social media channels are no longer just about raising brand awareness.Online chat is the most convenient contact method
Online chat can be seen as an easier option to email and a quicker, more convenient channel compared to the telephone. Customers can chat on the go or while completing other tasks, with chatbots enabling chats to take place out of office hours.
This is likely why half (50%) of respondents said that convenience is a benefit they strongly associate with online chat. It also scored highly when it came to ease of communication and a good customer experience, beaten only by telephone when it came to the expectation of receiving these benefits.
Over 30% of respondents also said that there is an expectation of receiving 24-hour service via chatbots, which is the only benefit that it largely outscored telephone on. This is likely due to the fact that many people are unaware that they may be speaking to chatbots when using online chat out of business hours.
It is also worth noting that while well over 40% of respondents said that email was a convenient method of communication, just over 20% said it offered a good customer service and under 20% said that it allowed them to get quick answers to simple questions. This reiterates the fact that companies need to look at how they are dealing with customer emails.Chatbots and customer service
Despite the fact that chatbots can deliver around the clock service, they are seen as being less convenient than online chat with a human (42% versus 50%). Coupled with the fact that only 25% of respondents associate ease of communication with chatbots (compared to 40% when it comes to online chat), this suggests that there is still some work to do on the implementation of chatbots as a form of customer service.
Online chat with a human still largely outscores chatbots in terms of perceived benefits, with only 24-hour service receiving a higher score. Despite this, people expect to receive nearly identical response times from a chatbot as they do with a face-to-face conversation, showing that consumers have high expectations.
Some 42% of consumers expect an immediate chatbot response, while 36% expect a response within five minutes or less. When you compare this to web forms, which are responded to via email, and email, the difference is huge. Just 11% expect immediate responses from web forms and 7% via email.
When you factor in the expectations of 24-hour service and fast response, it does leave you to wonder why 79% of Cloud 100 companies are using online forms as a contact method rather than chatbots. Never mind the fact that only 14% of people say they’d rather fill out an online form than use a chatbot.
On top of this, people are becoming more comfortable with communicating with a chatbot rather than a person. While 43% of respondents in 2023 said they would prefer to interact with a human, this dropped to 38% this year.Final thoughts
While it is impossible to keep every customer happy 100% of the time, there is plenty that brands can do to reduce issues as much as possible. Addressing common areas of frustration is a good place to start and can ultimately lead to a better customer experience.
Ensuring your website is suitable for those consumers who prefer a self-serve approach is one step you should take. Looking at what information is missing from your website, how you can present it in an easy-to-follow format and the journey a customer needs to take to find the information will ensure that it is simpler for people to get answers to their questions quickly.
You should also consider the customer service channels you use and how you can optimize response times. Is email the only contact option you offer? Take a look at incorporating online chat and chatbots in order to make customer service more convenient.
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